AUSTIN - Saturday's 5A Division I semi-final began inauspiciously for the Westlake Chaparrals (13-2) when Tanner Price was intercepted on the first play from scrimmage by James Radcliffe, and Jamel James soon turned this mistake into an early 7-0 lead for the Katy Cinco Ranch Cougars(13-2).
Westlake would take the first possession setback in stride though, as they scored 28 unanswered points before the end of the half, including 21 in the second quarter. They would go on to win the game 42-27 after a bit of scare late in the second half.
After several futile drives in the first quarter, Westlake broke through with a Tanner Price 1 yard quarterback draw with 0:37 remaining in the quarter.
As the second quarter went along, Westlake established a sizeable lead that they would never relinquish, although they needed every point.
A stout Chap defense led to a subsequent Cinco Ranch three and out, and after a Price to Charlie Copa 13 yard touchdown pass for Westlake, their defense held once again, this time on fourth down at midfield. Price quickly earned his third touchdown on the afternoon with a four yard quarterback sweep on a swift 6 play, 48 yard drive.
After the Westlake defense once again stopped Cinco Ranch, this time after the Cougars broke through to Chaparral territory, Miles Berger finished off a Westlake drive with a 12 yard reception for a score.
The third quarter would see the Cougars and Chaparrals trade touchdowns as Zach Myers scored on a 32 yard quarterback scamper for Cinco Ranch, while Van Grumann rushed 34 yards to extend the Westlake lead back to 21.
To begin the fourth quarter, Cinco Ranch scored 14 unanswered points with passes from Myers to Joe Norrell and Bobby Waid of 11 and 25 yards respectively. The second drive was kept alive after Myers appeared to be down for a loss on third and eleven, but was just able to hand the ball off to K.C. Nlemchi. Westlake, safely to say, was not happy about the call.
"The kids did a good job of keeping it together," Westlake coach Darren Allman said. "They let me do the blowing up." After the ensuing Westlake drive stalled around midfield, Tanner Price showed off another of his talents; his punting ability. Price's punt dribbled out of bounds at the 5 yard line, pinning Cinco Ranch in a hole that they had a hard time fighting their way out of.
"Well, I shanked (a punt) last week," Price said. "That was probably my best punt of the season."
After forcing another turnover on downs on 4th and 2 at the Cougar 34, Grumann once again took it to the house with 1:52 remaining to seal the game for Westlake, this time on the first play of the drive. "Offensively we just needed to move the ball," Price added. "It definitely got nerve-racking there at the end.
"Things can change with one 4th down stop. We don't let the emotions get to us. We call it being cold blooded," Allman said. The Westlake defense would end the game the way the Cinco Ranch defense had begun; with an interception, when James Robinson took a Myers pass out of the air with 1:36 to go.
Westlake will face Euless Trinity this Saturday at the Alamodome for all the marbles in the state title at 2 PM.
"These kids have dreamed of playing at (Darrell K. Royal -Texas Memorial Stadium) since they were kids, and to win here is just icing on the cake," Allman concluded.